Sunday 18 March 2018

Dunguib rivals ready to fight for supremacy

Damien McElroy

Odds-on Dunguib hasn't yet frightened off the opposition for the opener at the Cheltenham Festival, as 65 other horses were left in at yesterday's forfeit stage for the Spinal Research Supreme Novices Hurdle.

Timeform ratings issued in conjunction with the entries update have Philip Fenton's stable star 5lb superior to Dermot Weld's Rite Of Passage, the ex-Irish Menorah and Get Me Out Of Here.

This respected Yorkshire-based organisation suggests ante-post favourite Rite Of Passage and Get Me Out Of Here, most recently successful for JP McManus in Newbury's Totesport Trophy, are only on a par for the Neptune Novices Hurdle with Najaf.

The latter is one of the latest French imports to join the Paul Nicholls stable and is also given what could be an inflated mark for the three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle 2lb ahead of Irish-bred Tell Massini for Tom George's yard.

Edward Harty's Captain Cee Bee, victorious in the Supreme Novices Hurdle two years ago, is also the undisputed ante-post market leader at this juncture for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.

This €150,000 spectacular on the opening afternoon (Tuesday, March 16) is down to 36 possibles, with Timeform placing Nicky Henderson's Long Run 1lb above Captain Cee Bee and 2lb better than fellow Irish raider Sizing Europe.

This former French jumper could yet be switched by Henderson to the mile-longer RSA Chase, despite the Lambourn handler also boasting Punchestowns and Burton Port among the principal contenders.

While the former Cheltenham hero Nicanor, Catch Me and Aranleigh have defected from the RSA promotion, a strong Irish contingent numerically (13), including Mikael D'Haguenet, remain among the 34 still standing.

Irish Independent

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